Google Maps hits iOS, smacks down Nokia

The big news today is the release of Google Maps for iOS, and the app is already an unqualified success: David Pogue stumbled over himself to praise the new offering, and iPhone users made it the App Store’s most popular free title within just seven hours. Meanwhile, Google wasted no time in releasing an SDK enabling developers to leverage Google Maps within their own apps — a shrewd move that is certain to appeal to the legions of developers of navigation-based offerings.

The obvious loser here is Apple, which will pay a hefty price for botching its own Maps app. But as the New York Times’ Brian X. Chen notes, the instantaneous popularity of Google Maps is also a big loss for Nokia. The Finnish handset maker invested a fortune in creating its own mapping business, and some of its navigation apps are solid. But its Here app has largely been panned by iPhone users, and downloads from Apple’s App Store have plummeted after surging on its November release. Nokia had a chance to give its mapping business a huge boost among iPhone users with Here, but Google may have just slammed that window shut.